June is LGBT Awareness Month. Here’s a recent collection of resources from ORR technical assistance provider, Welcoming America. You can find a recent webinar archive and an excellent PDF compilation of resources that will help you and your agency deliver effective services to this special population of refugees.
Here are four employment specific issues to keep in mind when working with LGBT refugee clients:
1. New hire paperwork and work authorization verification must use the legal name provided on I-94, EADs or other U.S. government documentation. That might not match the name transgender clients may have chosen for themselves. Explain this issue clearly to help clients avoid delays in clearance to start a new job. Also be aware that different names could reveal client information that would be better discussed in a different context with potential employers.
2. Communication policies with employers: Decide in advance how and in what circumstances your agency might communication with employers around gender identity. Client confidentiality is important. In some instances, transgender clients might present special circumstances for employers around staff locker rooms and restroom facilities. You might consider discussing it with trusted employer partners. Definitely help clients understand the issues and listen to how they prefer to handle the situation whenever possible.
3. Collaboration with case managers is even more important for successful employment services for this population. LGBT clients are very likely to have experienced persecution and prejudice in their home countries. That could have consequences for the kinds of jobs and work environments in which they will find success. Avoid wasting your time on inappropriate placements through close collaboration with case managers.
4. Flexible solutions for group situations: Clients might not feel comfortable participating in job readiness classes or other group services with others from their ethnic group. They might prefer housing or even employment where they will not have to face discrimination from their community. Placing them in employment with others from their country could cause tensions and jeopardize employment or the entire relationship.